What Is the Target Population in Research?

The target population contains members of a group that a researcher is interested in studying. The results of the study are generalized to this population, because they all have significant traits in common.


The “sample” is different. This is the actual group from which data is collected. It is a subset of the population and should be a typical representation of the larger group. Depending upon the size and type of the population and the type of study, different methods are available to help identify a fair sample, such as random sampling and matched sampling. Populations and samples do not need to be humans. Research can collect information on a wide range of subjects, including animals, plants and manufactured goods.